Arizonensis --> Sonoran Desert Naturalist --> Sonoran Desert Places --> Camelback Mountain
Desert Wild Flower Reports ¦ Field Trip Reports ¦ Birds ¦ Mammals ¦ Cacti ¦ Shrubs and Trees
Together, Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain define the natural skyline of Phoenix. They offer city residents a nearby sojourn into the desert or an athletic hiking experience. The desert encounter is not perfect of course. There are often crowds of people all seeking solitude. And one is never really far enough from roads and other city noises to find complete solitude. Not withstanding, many desert plants and creatures eke out a living here and provide opportunities to observe amazing desert ecology and survival.
There are two entry points to this recreation area. The parking at the Echo Canyon trail head is limited - so much so that if the weather is nice the lot will be full with more waiting to park. The drive into Echo Canyon is just east of 44th Street and Tatum. To access the mountain from the east there is limited parking along Invergorden for the access to the Cholla Trail. Access by driving ½ mile north from Camelback Road on 68th Street.
Beyond the first ¼ mile the hike up Camelback becomes physically demanding and potentially hazardous. The slope is quite steep in spots (there are hand rails and chains to steady your ascent) and the hundreds of trampling shoes have produced a fine coating of slippery, pulverized rock. Many hikers are very fit and use the trail for fitness training.
The geology of Camelback is entirely different than nearby Piestewa Peak (formerly Squaw Peak). The northwestern portion is reveals a cap of sedimentary rock. An aggregate of stones and smaller gravel is cemented together with an appealing rust colored silt stone. The rock is rather soft which has allowed for the formation of wind caves and grottos. Moisture is readily absorbed by this material and released slowly allowing for a surprisingly diverse flora. The eastern half as well as the highest summit is a core of Cenozoic or Tertiary, course-grained granite.
Adapted from Phoenix Parks & Rec. Map.
The colorful sedimentary rock of Camelback Mountain makes for an easily recognizable landmark whether driving through or flying above Phoenix, Arizona.
Field Trip Reports:
In 2010 I observed a large honey bee colony located on a cliff face below an overhang just to the southwest of the Echo Canyon trail. A pair of teens was also seen throwing rocks. In the photo below damage to the wax combs is evident. Safety of hikers requires alertness, keeping a good distance from hives, and clearly no intentional disturbance.
(more frequent towards top of list)
Seasonal occurence: (S)ummer, (F)all, (W)inter, (Sp)ring
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Harris' Ground Squirrel
(More frequent listed first.)
Graham's Pincushion Cactus
Roughly In order of Abundance
About ¼ mile up, the Echo Canyon trail passes alongside a steep northeast facing cliff. Many of the less common trees and shrubs are found here.
Month Name Only : no flowers. no live plants.
: usually no or very few blooms open
: a few scattered blooms likely to be seen
: quite a few blooms likely to be seen, depending on past rainfall
: abundant blooms dependent on favorable rainfall
|Common Name||Scientific name||Color||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Arch-nutted Comb Bur||Pectocarya recurvata||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct|
|Bigelow Four O'Clock||Mirabilis bigelovii|
|Blue Dicks||Dichelostemma pulchellum||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Open|
|Brittle Bush||Encelia farinosa|
|Creosote Bush||Larrea tridentata|
|Desert Globe Mallow||Sphaeralcea ambigua|
|Desert Lavender||Hyptis emoryi|
|Golden Eye||Viguiera deloidea|
|Red-stemmed Fillaree||Erodium cicutarium||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct|
|Orange Fiddleneck||Amsinckia intermedia||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov|
|Sand Peppergrass||Lepidium lasiocarpum||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov|
|Ragged Rock Flower||Crossosoma bigelovii|
|Triangle-leaf Bursage||Ambrosia deltoidea|
|London Rocket (weed)||Sisymbrium irio||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov|
|Lance-leaf Ditaxis||Argythamnia lanceolata|
|Notch-leaved Phacelia||Phacelia ambigua||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov|
|Lace Pod||Thysanocarpus curvipes||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Sweet Bush||Bebbia juncea|
|Foedid Marigold||Adenophyllum porophylloides|
|Wooly Plantain||Plantago insularis||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov|
|Torrey Eucrypta||Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Open|
|California Sundrops||Camissonia californica||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Hairy Bowlesia||Bowlesia incana||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Shrubby Bedstraw||Galium stellatum|
|Desert Poinsettia||Euphorbia eriantha|
|Common Name||Scientific name||Flower||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
Sonoran Desert Naturalist
Michael J. Plagens, page created 24 November 2004,
updated 31 October 2012